Following T1 and Afreeca Freecs’ fourth and fifth-place finishes in the 2020 LCK Summer Split, respectively, the two teams will be playing in the first wildcard round of the playoffs on Wednesday, Aug. 26. T1 are looking to secure their fourth-consecutive LCK title, while AFS will aim for the organization’s first championship since its inception.
AFS became known as the gatekeepers of the playoffs this split after losing to the top four teams while winning against all of the squads ranked sixth to 10th. Based on their record, League of Legends fans might expect an easy 2-0 series win by T1. But AFS almost put a stop to T1 the last time they faced off in the wildcard round of the 2019 Summer Split playoffs. This time, AFS have more experience and arguably better players, so their chances seem much better.
T1 also look better overall, but they have an important decision to make: Which mid laner is going to be used?
Lee “Clozer” Ju-hyeo has given enemy mid laners a run for their money since his debut, while Faker has looked lackluster in his recent games before being replaced by his rookie teammate. The former world champion was given a shot in the team’s last series against DRX but failed to perform up to his usual standards and the whole team looked much more disorganized than it did with Clozer in the driver’s seat.
Here’s everything you need to know heading into this playoff matchup between T1 and AFS.
T1, the only organization with three League world championships under its belt and plenty of LCK titles, is looking to get another domestic title and a shot at another Worlds. The team is hungry for its fourth domestic title in a row but is also thinking about its future as an organization. T1 brought in substitute mid laner Clozer in the middle of the split, sending Faker to the bench. Even in situations where he was clearly outclassed against Damwon Gaming, the organization oddly didn’t bring in Faker.
Will this start a new era for T1 without Faker as he takes a more passive role or is this just an experiment to see if Clozer can be subbed in whenever T1 needs a more aggressive mid laner? All League fans can do for now is watch their road in the playoffs to see if we’ll find out the answer.
Who to watch: Clozer/Faker
Who will represent T1 in the mid lane in this series: the emerging rookie or the unstoppable demon king? While recent performances put Clozer on a pedestal over Faker, he’s obviously yet to win any titles. Both mid laners are similar in terms of stats, according to gol.gg, but Clozer has an edge in win rate, KDA, and average creep score kills per minute. Faker, on the other hand, is known to shot call during T1’s matches. He might have an edge over Clozer in this regard, but it’s something we can’t quantify.
Both mid laners have something to fight for. Clozer likely wants to make a name for himself, while Faker wants to show everyone that he’s still a top-tier mid laner. All eyes should be on them heading into this playoff showdown.
AFS enter the playoffs as the underdogs. They lost 0-2 to teams placed higher than them and won 2-0 against squads below them in the standings.
Based on this assumption, it’s unlikely that they’ll get further than the wildcard round. But they were able to take a game off of T1 last time they met in the 2019 Summer Split playoffs. Their roster is improved this time, with top laner Kiin being rewarded for his loyalty to the team with great teammates. While his teammates were heavily outclassed before, this current iteration of AFS has shown signs of promise. There’s no better place to prove what they’re capable of than the LCK. If they can win an LCK title, they can focus on getting a world championship next.
Who to watch: Kiin
Kiin is one of the oldest top laners in the LCK. He was acquired by AFS in December 2017 after his short six-month stay with his first team, Ever8 Winners. He’s been one of AFS’ best acquisitions since then, always being the reliable team player you’d want in your solo queue games. He was average in terms of stats this split, but this is due to his team being heavily outclassed by top-tier squads, which indirectly affected his lane as well.
While we don’t usually see as many Kiin highlights as we did in previous splits, he’s had some shining moments, especially when it matters. He can easily take over games with carry picks such as Renekton or Camille if given the opportunity.
While his opponent, Canna, looked ruthless this split, he’s only been playing in the LCK for a year. His lack of experience in best-of series compared to Kiin might help the veteran get a lead during the laning phase that could allow his jungler to focus on other lanes instead. If Kiin doesn’t step up and perform well against a rookie, he could be at risk of losing his status as a top-tier laner in the LCK. This isn’t a match only about AFS’ chances of getting an LCK championship or reaching Worlds, but a matter of pride for Kiin. Can he step up and show everyone why he was called the best top laner in the LCK at one point?
Prediction: T1 win 2-1
T1 looked better in the second round robin, dismantling most opponents with the exception of Damwon. While AFS haven’t been able to find a single win against higher-placed opponents, T1 contested several games and actually won some of them. The odds are definitely against AFS in this match. They might be able to win a single game due to some surprising picks, but overall, T1 will likely secure the series victory.
Tune in on Wednesday, Aug. 26 at 3am CT to see if T1 can maintain their dominant form and qualify for the next round of the playoffs.
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